Ellie Salthouse nearly left the sport of triathlon last year but now she’s a force to be reckoned with. Trizone caught up with Ellie in her downtime to chat about some life-changing moments, Challenge Melbourne and donut socks.
“It sent a message that I’ve finally sorted my sh** out, so don’t underestimate me,” says Ellie, referring to her impressive Challenge Melbourne result earlier this year. “It was that moment that I got the reassurance I’d needed. It was like I finally heard that little voice saying ‘Yes! You’re good at this! Keep going!’ My coach and my parents felt that too. We all felt relieved.”
Ellie Salthouse has had a monster of a year with countless wins around the world, but it wasn’t always easy. At the end of 2015, Ellie felt like she was just “going through the motions,” but at a time when most athletes might call it quits, she looked for something new. Ellie told her coach Siri Lindley she needed a change. “Siri told me it was time to decide; I either quit or try something different,” she adds. “I wasn’t ready to quit the sport, I just needed a different path.”
Leaving ITU for 70.3
Ellie took a month off in November 2015 and decided to leave the ITU circuit, transitioning to 70.3 instead. “I loved ITU, but I knew it was time for a change,” Ellie explains. “It was hard to let go of my dream to go to the Olympics one day, but I knew it was time to move on.” She’d decided 2016 was going to dictate whether or not she’d continue triathlon. “I worked my ass off training in Brisbane on my own in December and January 2016. I wanted to give it a really good crack.”
Ellie destroys the field at Challenge Melbourne
To say Ellie gave the 2016 triathlon season a ‘good crack’ is an understatement, and then some. In her first race of the year, Challenge Melbourne, she obliterated the field – finishing in 4:11:03, a huge four minutes ahead of well-known champion Natalie Van Coevorden (4:15:14)
“I felt like in 2015, some people had given up on me and thought of me as a ‘has been.’ I’d had great results as a junior but hadn’t had any… since 2010 that I was really happy with,” she points out. “It was hard watching all my friends finishing Uni and moving on with their lives when I felt like I was going around in circles.”
“After Melbourne, I knew I could do it,” Ellie adds. “I’d made some big moves, and my parents and Siri all knew that I could do it. I could make a career out this thing.”
From Challenge Melbourne onwards, Ellie was unstoppable, placing fifth in the North American Championships and winning in Knoxville in the US. She also won at the prestigious 70.3 race in Boulder, and again at 70.3 in Miami. After a slew of key victories, she was also invited to the prestigious Island House Triathlon event.
Island House Triathlon
“Going to the Bahamas was an adventure in itself,” says Ellie giggling. The humble athlete was invited to the extremely exclusive, invite-only event to race against athletes in a number of different fields. “It’s really cool being able to race against athletes from all distances. It’s not like anything we usually get to do,” she says. The three day event is held in paradise but is still extremely tough. “Day two was my favourite as it’s suited the girls who race longer distances. There’s a 40km bike that was right up my alley, and I came third behind Gwen and Flora.”
The sprint sessions the next day were extremely tough on all the athletes. “It was a bit of a struggle but everyone was in the same boat. The island was so beautiful it made it better. It was hard not to get distracted!” says Ellie.
It’s this joyful, grateful approach that makes Salthouse a true champion. From nearly giving up the entire sport to winning in both Australia and overseas, Ellie Salthouse is making one of triathlon’s most impressive comebacks.
Ellie Salthouse triumphs at Challenge Shepparton
Only a week after Island House, Ellie was still jetlagged when the time came to head to country Victoria and race at Challenge Shepparton. “Two days before the race the weather was beautiful! But race day was freezing!” she laughs, remembering the frigid conditions. As the race began, being the strongest swimmer in the field, Ellie worked hard to lead early on. She’d wanted to create some space between her and the pack, but another competitor was just six seconds behind Ellie at T1. “It changed my approach on the bike, as I had to ride with someone,” says Ellie. “I do my best races when I’m out in front by myself, but it turned out this race was going to be different.”
In classic Aussie lingo, Ellie adds “it was a true heads down bum up situation. It was a really tough bike with crazy strong cross winds.”
Realising she and the other lead racer had an impressive lead ahead of the pack, Ellie began preparing for the run. “I had no idea what she was capable of on the run,” she recalls. “We had a big lead going into T2, but somehow she gave me +1:30 in the transition. I’m not sure what she was doing in there but I was grateful for that extra time!”
Powering through the run, Ellie finally had her space to create the race she wanted. As she approached the finish line, all she could think of was her impending break. “I was just thinking, ‘Yes! two weeks of nothing!’”
She won in 4:19:16, with Andrea Forrest a close second, finishing in 4:20:06. “I wanted to go into next year with confidence after finishing off the season with a win. It really makes you feel like you deserve your time off!”
Ellie definitely deserves some down time after an incredible year. We’re so taken with this girl, we had to ask her a little more about her life as the biggest new thing in women’s triathlon.
5 Questions for Ellie Salthouse
What’s your pre-race ritual?
I don’t do anything too crazy, but I always paint my nails before I race.
2. What’s your pre-race breakfast?
Nutella on toast, always. I take a tub of Nutella with me to all my races!
3. Do you have any standard competition outfits?
I wore these donut socks by Federmut once, and people asked me afterwards ‘when will we see the donuts again?’ So now I wear them every race. I’m sponsored by Federmut now!
4. Would you rather race in cool climates or hot weather?
I’m from Queensland, so definitely hot! I’m starting my 2017 season with 70.3 Geelong, which is usually pretty hot.
5. Who is your biggest fan?
My parents, definitely. They come to every race they can. My Mum’s a shift worker and she still makes it to tons of my races, and my Dad came to the US this year. The encourage me no matter what. I’m very lucky to have their support.